Banga, Kochhar among Fortune 2012 businesspersons

MasterCard's India-born CEO Ajay Banga and ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar have been named by Fortune magazine among the '2012 Businesspersons of the Year', an annual ranking of 50 global leaders who are "the best in business".

The list has been topped by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos with Apple CEO Tim Cook coming in at the second place.

Another Indian giving Banga and Kochhar company in the list of 50 global business leaders is Deepak Narula, founder and managing partner of hedge fund firm Metacapital Management.

Banga, 52, ranks eighth in the list while Kochhar comes in at the 18th position, one notch ahead of billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffet.

Narula ranks 36th.

Fortune said investors have so far been impressed with Banga's performance at the helm of MasterCard.

"Since Banga took the helm two years ago, MasterCard's stock has more than doubled, outperforming arch rival Visa," it said, adding that the former Citigroup executive wants MasterCard to be a leader in the mobile payments revolution.

Banga's other big bet includes prepaid cards in emerging markets such as Mexico, South Africa and Brazil, a major reason why MasterCard now generates 60% of its revenues outside the US.

On Kochhar, 51, Fortune said a bullish outlook through the recession helped her direct India's second largest bank, which has assets of $93 billion, to a "standout performance".

"Next up for the ICICI lifer: More global clients," the publication added.

On Narula, Fortune said the former Lehman trader's $1.5 billion mortgage-focused hedge fund has "left others in the industry in the dust this year, posting 37% returns through October".

"Metacapital has outpaced other funds for years by taking positions with near perfect foresight of policy change and movement in the housing market".

In compiling this year's businessperson of the year list, Fortune took stock of financial results, stock performance and market value of the company. It also considered metrics such as strategic savvy, ability to steer a very large organisation, risk taking and cultural significance.

"It was a year of comebacks and cool performances for the executives on Fortune's annual Businessperson of the Year ranking," the publication said.

Bezos, who topped the list, had another stellar year, with revenue up 31% in the past year.

"It is his penchant for taking risks and disrupting industries that earned him the top spot on our list," Fortune said.

Bezos's philosophy of giving priority to long-term gains over short-term profitability is yielding palpable results for the tech giant he built from scratch.

Analysts estimate Amazon Web Services, a cloud-based computing platform used by hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world, could generate as much as $1.5 billion.

"Amazon's Kindle Fire line helped popularise the seven-inch tablet form such that Apple finally released a version of its own," Fortune added.

On Cook, Fortune said despite a shuffling of executive management, the first full-year as CEO for Steve Jobs's successor was "chock-full of milestones".

Apple's stock soared to an all-time high of $705 per share and its latest iPhone sold more than five million units during its first weekend on sale, creating a company record.

Among the other business honchos on the list are Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page at rank 6, Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson (9), Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison (14), Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke (17), IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty (22), Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz (23) and Twitter co-founder and executive chairman Jack Dorsey (48).

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